Compiled by Kris Michele, Coleman Communications Intern from wire and online sources

T10300971 10152237624718691 1711380543506745010 nexting while driving — no matter how good you think you are at it, or how lucky you have been — is vehicular suicide and manslaughter that’s just biding its time.

In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in auto accidents that involved a distracted driver. An additional 421,000 people were injured — a 9% increase from the 387,000 people injured in 2011.

If those numbers catch your eye, take a look at some more statistics:

    •       More than 50 percent of teens admit to texting while driving

 •     ore than 3,000 teens die each year in crashes caused by texting while driving

    •       In 2011, nearly one in five crashes (17%) where someone was injured involved distracted driving.

PULL OVER TO TEXT®” is a movement created by Demetrius Thompson, the CEO and tech visionary at Global Mobile Alert™. After being hit twice by distracted drivers while in his vehicle, he knew it was time to step up and do something about it.

Thompson began by asking his social media friends to post pictures of themselves holding a handwritten note that reads, I PULL OVER TO TEXT®.” Then he encouraged them to tag their friends and family to do the same using the hashtag, #ipullovertotext or #pullovertotext.

The response was overwhelming, with people joining the movement from as far away as India!

But as pleased as Thompson was with this response, he knew he couldn’t stop there. He decided to build an app that would alert the distracted driver, especially when that driver might be approaching a changing light, a school, or a railroad track.

“I felt it was important to develop an app that would protect people from distracted drivers,” Thompson said via email.  “I knew the danger of people texting while driving and I didn’t want to wait for others to address the problem — so I did it myself.” 

The PULL OVER TO TEXT®” app is a quick and easy download to your Android phone.  (An iOS version is in development.)  When a text message comes in, the sender receives one of three SMS auto response that the user pre-selects, which can include I am not able to answer your text while driving,” I will call you in a few minutes,” or I will text you when I pull over.” The driver can also customize their own pre-determined, automatic response.

Coleman Communications is a Sacramento-based marketing and communications agency Connect with CEO Mike Coleman at 916-834-5567 or


*It may be a small world, after all, but it’s an increasing sad and dangerous one, as well.

In a real wake-up call, and in the wake of recent shootings in Paris and San Bernardino, Disney theme parks are installing metal detectors at their entrances. For the first time, they’ve banned costumes for guests over 14 years old, and banned the sale and possession of toy weapons in all of their parks, for fear that they’ll be confused with the real deal.

Disney’s move comes a week after they had to arrest a man for trying to enter the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Florida with a handgun, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

“We continually review our comprehensive approach to security and are implementing additional security measures, as appropriate,” Disney spokeswoman Jacquee Wahler told USA Today.

What are some of those measures? They include dogs that can detect explosives worn on the body.

Sounds like Mickey’s job just got a lot more dangerous and complicated.


The extra security is being put in place at both Walt Disney World in Florida and California’s Disneyland and Disney California Adventure parks. Disney hasn’t been clear about whether their security enhancements are permanent, or just for the holiday season, which is traditionally one of the busiest seasons for theme parks nationwide.

What’s next?  Gas masks in the gift shop?  Body armor on the ride operators?

For what it’s worth, other parks are making similar moves. Universal says it has added metal detectors to its theme parks on both coasts. “We want our guest to feel safe when they come here,” Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said. “This test is a natural progression for us as we study best practices for security in today’s world.”

SeaWorld says that guests at its theme parks should expect more thorough bag checks and wand metal detectors. But as much as I loved seeing Shamu as a kid (boy, have times changed), its not Disney. No place on earth is as far as I’m concerned, so when “the most magical place on earth” has to take measures like this to make their guests feel safe, we’ve let this world go, as my mother would say, to hell in a hand-basket.

I’m not alone.

“Now, families can’t even go to ‘The Happiest Place on Earth’ to escape the realities of gun violence in this country,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement.


“Disney’s decision, undoubtedly made with the safety of their guests foremost in mind, reflects the sacrifices we are all being forced to make as reckless politicians kowtow to the corporate gun lobby.” Gross said. “It doesn’t have to be this way; we are better than this.”

I think we are, too.

Others believe the security measures are appropriate.

“I think the metal detectors are a reasonable precaution,” Tim Harden, an Orlando graphic designer, said. “You’re going to wait in lines all day long, so what’s one more line?”

It’s one more line. And as I stand in it this spring, in the same line I stood in as a kid, and later stood in with my kids every other spring break, I’ll be saddened, and reminded that we as a society have lost control of the gun control issue.

What do you think? Is this a reasonable precaution? Will you feel safer at theme parks with metal detectors at the entrance, or have Disney and other parks gone too far? Let us know in the Comments section.

This article was written by freelance writer Michael P Coleman, who’s rethinking his decision to visit WDW again next year.  Connect with him at or on Twitter.


by Michael P Coleman

IMG 3311Fans of The Wiz, and musical theatre in general, are getting an early holiday gift this year as NBC readies their new live, all-star broadcast on December 3rd, featuring ingenue Shanice Williams.  Stephanie Mills, who played Dorothy in the original Broadway production, is the new production’s Aunt ‘Em. 

Fans of Diana Ross, who played Dorothy in the 1978 feature film, were a bit disappointed when she wasn’t added to the cast.  (After all, she’s been playing Glenda in concert onstage for decades, right?  “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand…”)  But Motown is giving us a consolation prize with the November 27 release of “Diana Ross Sings Songs From The Wiz”, an album the diva recorded in 1978 as a planned companion piece to the movie’s soundtrack.  After the movie underperformed at the box office, the album was shelved — until now. 

Read the full story here:

PEANUTS movie franklin characterartby Michael P. Coleman

*We all know the kids in the Peanuts universe — Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus et al. We even know the animals (if you can call Snoopy and Woodstock animals!). However, we never got to know the adults in the strip, as teachers and the kids’ parents were always “off camera” so to speak. In the animated specials, even their voices were reduced to audio flares from a trumpet (“Waah Waah Waah!!!).

I just got to know the mom of Franklin Armstrong, Charlie Brown’s African American buddy. Franklin’ s mother is a white retired school teacher who talked Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz into integrating the classic comic strip.

For the complete article, visit



castro 250*I may be the only person alive who never understood the whole Rocky Horror Picture Show thing.


You’ve seen or read about these events. For decades now, rabid fans of the movie have been packing theaters around the world, dressed as their favorite characters from the movie, to enjoy a viewing experience that I’m told is quite interactive. To be frank, I never quite got why anyone would waste their time and money.  I was never even much of a Halloween person, so dressing up as a character to watch a movie seemed crazy.


As it turns out, Rocky Horror was just the wrong movie for me. I recently discovered San Francisco’s Castro Theatre’s sing-a-long lineup, and I took my eldest daughter, Janet, to see Disney’s The Little Mermaid. We had an absolute blast.  The theatre enjoyed five sold-out shows last weekend, quite a feat for a movie that’s over 25 years old and has seen at least three releases on home video formats dating back to the Laserdisc.

By luck, the Castro was showing The Little Mermaid during my daughter’s recent visit to hang with her pops. That Disney classic was the very first movie I took her to see when she was a little girl. After the movie that chilly November day, little Janet was barely out of her carseat and back in the house when she asked me to lie down on the floor in the living room, before giving me the best “Part Of Your World” I would ever hear. Misty-eyed, I jumped back in the car and grabbed a copy of the soundtrack for her. Janet and I have been duetting on those Ashman and Menken showstoppers ever since. 


But we’d NEVER belted them out like we did at the historic Castro Theatre last week.   A line began to form outside the theatre a full hour before the doors were to open, and there were many Ariels, a few Ursulas and King Tritons, and even a Sebastian or two in that line.  We didn’t have to wait long before we filed into the stunning, vintage theatre and took our seats.

While we waited for the show to start, an organist from days gone by performed a beautiful medley of songs from a variety of Disney animated classics dating back to 1937’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs before the event’s hosts — Ariel and Eric in the flesh! — welcomed us and gave us a few guidelines and instructions for the show. Our bags had been packed with glow sticks, bubbles, a variety of other props to be used during the show.


And use them we did! Yes, I sat with Triton’s crown atop my now salt-and-pepper head, and acted out entire scenes from the movie with my “little one”, and she nailed “Part Of Your World” — as well as Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls”) just as well as she did when she was a little girl.  I’d almost forgotten just how cherished those moments when she was so young were, and how happy and blessed I was to be a part of Janet’s childhood.  As the two of us belted out “Part Of Your World” over the movie’s closing credits, I found myself thankful to the Castro Theatre for helping me remember.

In addition to The Little Mermaid, The Castro Theatre regularly presents sing-a-long versions of other classic movies like Beauty & The Beast, The Wizard Of Oz, and The Sound Of Music. Later this month, they’ll feature a sing-a-long event that will undoubtedly be popular with today’s little girls (and their dads):  Frozen.


“That was SO much fun,” my Janet, 28, exclaimed as she hugged me and we walked out of the theatre last week. “I was too young to remember the first time we saw The Little Mermaid together, Dad, but I’ll remember THAT time forever!”
And I’m sitting, wiping away tears at my computer as I listen to my newly purchased, expanded edition of The Little Mermaid soundtrack.


This article was written by Michael P. Coleman, who also tweets all the time.


by Michael P Coleman

McDonald Profile credit Autumn de WildeWith six Tony Awards, the legendary Audra McDonald has earned more competitive Tonys than any other actor in Broadway history. While performing to standing-room-only audiences on many of the world’s great stages, she has also picked up two Grammy Awards and a long list of other accolades during her unprecedented career.

Contemporary TV audiences may know McDonald from her long-running stint on ABC’s “Private Practice”, while millions of others caught her bravura performance in NBC’s “The Sound Of Music Live!” in 2013 with Carrie Underwood. Most recently McDonald shares the silver screen with the legendary Meryl Streep in “Ricki and the Flash”.

In addition to her professional obligations, McDonald has been an ardent proponent of marriage equality, and last year she joined the Covenant House International Board of Directors, which oversees programs for homeless youth in 27 cities in six countries across the United States, Canada, and Latin America. With all of those roles, she says her favorites are those she performs offstage: wife to her husband, and mother to her daughter, Zoe Madeline.

On September 5th, McDonald will cast her spell on the Gallo Center in Modesto, performing her favorites from the Great American Songbook. I caught up with McDonald as she prepared for her Modesto show, and she talked about a few of her landmark projects, including her work with TV super producer Shonda Rhimes and Underwood. She also offered advice to young “hopefuls” who dream of a performing arts career, and told me how she felt the morning the Supreme Court ensured legal protection for all marriages in the United States.

This conversation has been edited.

I’m curious about your thoughts about arts programs that have been so radically cut, especially in communities like your Fresno hometown. What tips can you offer on how someone enrolled in the current public school system can nurture and cultivate their own performing arts gifts?

I was really lucky to have gone to the performing arts junior high and high school and participated in community theatre in Fresno. It was invaluable. I tell students that it doesn’t matter where you go to get on stage — just get on stage. If there’s a church musical or some community center [in your hometown], just perform. Volunteer your services, perform for a retirement home or something like that. The experience of being on stage, performing, and the relationship between the performer and the audience is the same no matter whether it’s for a few people in a nursing home in central California or Carnegie Hall. That communication between the performer and the audience is the same. So don’t discount any experience. It’s all good. It’s all helpful. It’s all necessary.

You made history by winning more competitive Tony Awards than any other artist in Broadway’s history. What did that mean to you?

My dream growing up was just to perform in one Broadway show. That’s all I wanted. Anything else that’s happened I’ve been incredibly grateful for and overwhelmed by, and it’s been beyond my greatest dreams. If I can inspire another young hopeful out there and let them know that he or she can do this too, then that makes it even more worthwhile. To be able to be a role model, and tell someone ‘Look where I came from. You can do the same thing” is incredibly fulfilling to me.

During your acceptance speech, you thanked the “strong and brave and courageous women” who’d preceded you, and said you stood on their shoulders. I’m wondering what you think about your place in that legacy, and whether there are newer artists today who are standing on your shoulders?

I’m very grateful for the shoulders that I’m standing on, and I hope to have broad shoulders that other performers can stand on and women can stand on and African American women can stand on and take us up into the stratosphere. That’s my hope and dream. There’s spectacular talent everywhere, there’s just opportunity that’s sometimes needed. I don’t think it’s right for me to say “…and they are standing on my shoulders…” because I consider them all to be colleagues. I do think about the young little girl at home who maybe sees me and says “Oh, she looks like me and she’s doing it. Why can’t I?”

I came to know you as an actress on Private Practice. I’m curious about your overall thoughts on that experience.

Private Practice was a great experience, working under Shonda Rhimes, one of the most powerful women in television. She has a brilliant mind, and she writes brilliantly. She puts no boundaries on characters, and she writes them as truthfully as she can. Thanks to her, I was honored to play Noami and have her be a very complicated, emotionally rich woman with many layers and colors and sides of her that didn’t play into many of the stereotypes that we still see in television, unfortunately.

Have you remained in touch with one of your colleagues on that show, Taye Diggs, and if so, have you had a chance to see him in Hedwig and the Angry Inch?

Taye and I met in 1993 so he’s someone that I’ve known for many decades now. I unfortunately have not been able to see him in Hedwig because I’ve been up in the Berkshires the entire time he’s been in the play. I’m sorry for that because I’m sure he’s spectacular and brilliant in it.

You were brilliant in the live Sound Of Music production a couple of years ago on NBC. I’d not seen any production of that show when I saw it, and you and Carrie Underwood and the whole cast made me a fan of that production. Carrie Underwood was savaged by many critics for her performance. What are your thoughts about working on that project, and working with Underwood?

Thank you! I loved working on that project. I was so honored that [producers] Craig Zadan and Neil Meron asked me to be a part of it, and were willing to cast that character in a colorblind way. Carrie Underwood has got to be one of the sweetest people and one of the hardest workers that I’ve ever met. I thought she was wonderful, and brave to take on a role as iconic as that, for one night only, completely live in front of millions and millions and millions of people, and do it as beautifully as she did. I thought she was wonderful, and I feel she was unfairly criticized. But what can you do? We work in this business and perform because we love to do it, and the inevitable part of that is you’re going to have critics [saying] you weren’t any good. We all have them. I was incredibly proud of her and the work that she did, and I loved being a part of that production, especially with Carrie.

Talk to me about Ricki and The Flash. What was working with Meryl Streep like?

An absolute dream come true. Watching Meryl Streep up close is an experience that I’ll not soon forget, if ever.

You were an early and stalwart proponent of marriage equality. Watching you express your support over the years was extremely inspiring. How did you feel last June when the Supreme Court made their landmark ruling?

I remember growing up, when I still believed in Santa Claus, and on Christmas morning going to the Christmas tree and seeing all of the presents for the first time. That’s exactly what that morning felt like for me. It made me believe in Santa Claus again. Santa Claus was Justice Kennedy and Ginsburg and whatnot, but I believe in him again! It was a beautiful day!

Speaking of Christmas, you’ve never done a holiday album. Could I talk you into recording one?

People have asked me that a lot over the years and I’ve not done one. Maybe I should at some point. Maybe this is the universe telling me I need to think about that.

Tickets for Audra McDonald’s September 5 performance at the Gallo Center are available at

Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer. Connect with him at or on Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP.


by Michael P. Coleman

oI still remember spending summers in Vossburg, Mississippi with my grandparents,  My grandmother would wring the necks of a few chickens every Sunday after church, and fry some of the best yard bird known to humankind.  

Except for the lack of chicken feathers flying around the yard out front, everything else about Water’z Wing/z in Sacramento reminds me of my Grandma’s kitchen.

Let’s start with those glorious chicken wings.  Crispy, hot, perfectly seasoned, and just out of the grease when they’re delivered to your table.  They smelled so scrumptious that I literally burned the roof of my mouth on the first bite because I couldn’t wait for them to cool.  Ditto with the incredible fried catfish.  And the chicken strips.  And the fries.  And the onion rings -- and I typically don't even LIKE onion rings! 

Lest you think everything at Water’z Wing’z is deep fried —and a part of me thinks it SHOULD be —let me say that the macaroni and cheese rivals my mom’s (don’t tell her!), the greens are crazy good, the potato salad was near perfect (and I'm very picky about my potato salad), and the heavenly cake was very aptly named.  And I'm not the only one to think so:  regular customers drive from as far away as Antioch and Stockton for a meal. 

All of this from a restaurant that started almost twenty years ago in a garage. 

Water’z Wing’z owners Yvonne Bryant and Steven Wynne have been at it since 1997, and they just celebrated two years at their current location.  The menu’s expanded quite a bit over the years, and now includes rib tips, red hots, several other varieties of fish, peach cobbler, banana pudding…you name it.  They offer a rotating Weekend Hook Up that often goes FAR beyond their regular menu.  And they have plans to expand even further.

“We’d like to open up the other side of the building as a ‘grown folks club”by this fall,” Bryant told me as I wrapped up a recent lunch.  “You know, a place where people can come and eat and relax.  We want every piece of society to feel comfortable here —that’s what we’re trying to build.” 

I asked her what the most fulfilling part of running the restaurant was.

“The best part of it is seeing the satisfaction on the faces of the customers,”she shared, “and seeing them enjoying their meal.  We want ‘Water’z Wing’z to be an extension of our customer’s homes.” 

Wynne, for whom the restaurant is named (his nickname is “Sweetwater”) shared one of the secrets to the restaurant’s success. 

“I decided to keep the menu simple, and develop foods that had that perfect taste,”he said.  “I want to offer dishes that have that first smack, that first taste that makes you want to come back.”

Water’z Wing’z is at 7121 Governors Circle in Sacramento (right off of I-99 and Florin Road).  They are open Wednesdays-Sundays.  More information is available at


Michael P. Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer who drives directly from Water'z Wingz to Planet Fitness.  You can catch him at, via email at, or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP

by Michael P Coleman

IMG 2778Alice Walker very famously wrote “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.” 

I agree with her —and I also think it pisses Him off when you hear internationally-renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli’s voice and don’t…pause.

Or cry.

Or faint.

I paused often, teared up a little, and could have fainted several times during Bocelli's standing-room-only performance at Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena Wednesday night.   I am rarely at a loss for words, but I was rendered completely speechless by the sheer majesty of the tenor's voice and presence.

The 7:30pm performance began just before 8pm, as gridlock in the parking lot prevented many —including this writer —from taking their seats on time. Performed by the San Francisco Festival Orchestra and the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, the show's first half was dedicated to Bocelli's favorite arias, which delighted opera fans but could have turned off those of us who came to his throng by way of his pop hits.  It didn't.  Although I couldn't name a single performed piece, I repeatedly marveled at the legend's instrument -- both its power and his mastery of it -- while waiting to hear some of Bocelli's more accessible selections. 

That first moment came after a twenty minute intermission with the theme to The Godfather, after which Broadway and R & B star Heather Headley delivered a breathtaking version of "Over The Rainbow" that earned the night's first standing ovation.  It wasn't the last.   

IMG 2773We were up on our feet after almost every selection that followed, including "Amapola" and Elvis' "Love Me Tender" and "Can't Help Falling In Love".  At the end of the latter,  Bocelli held the final note for an impossibly long time, to the exasperated delight of duet partner Headley and the audience.  He followed that stunner up with the show's closer, fan favorite "Canto Della Terra" performed with soprano Maria Aleida. 

The first of three encores followed, with Bocelli bringing Headley back on stage for the third time  for the night's highlight, a jaw-dropping version of "The Prayer" that prompted the misty eyes I admitted to earlier.  I had never been more thankful to God for the ability to hear.   If you've not heard their version of this song, correct that.  Now. 

Watch Bocelli & Headley perform "The Prayer."

Bocelli chose just three North American cities for this leg of his tour before he heads to Europe this summer, and I'm thankful he chose Sacramento, where he hadn't performed since 2006.  I hope he comes back soon.  In the meantime, I have his CDs. All of them.

He's that good.  

Michael P Coleman is a Sacramento-based freelance writer.  Connect with him at, via email at, or via Twitter: @ColemanMichaelP